Zachary Taylor

The greatest achievement of Colonel Taylor in Florida was his victory of Okee-Chobee, which was gained on the 25th of December, 1837. The action was very severe, and continued nearly four hours. The Indians, under the command of Alligator and Sam Jones, numbered about 700 warriors, and were posted in a dense hammock, with their front covered by a small stream, almost impassable on account of quicksands, and with their flanks secured by swamps that prevented all access. Colonel Taylor's force amounted to about 500 men, a portion of whom were inexperienced volunteers. By an extraordinary effort, the stream in front was crossed, under a most galling fire of the enemy, by our soldiers, who sunk to the middle in the mire. A close and desperate fight ensued, during which the five companies of the sixth infantry, who bore the brunt of the fray, lost every officer but one, and one of these companies saved only four privates unharmed. The enemy's line was at last broken, and their right flank turned. They were soon scattered in all directions, and were pursued until near night. The American loss was 26 killed and 112 wounded; that of the Indians was very large, but never definitely ascertained. Throughout the whole engagement, Colonel Taylor was passing on his horse from point to point within the sweep of the Indian rifles, emboldening and directing his men, without the least apparent regard for his own personal safety. This victory had a decisive influence upon the turn of the war; and the government immediately testified their sense of its importance by conferring upon its gallant winner the rank of brigadier-general by brevet.

In the following May, General Taylor succeeded General Jesup in the command of the Florida army, and in this capacity, during two years, he rendered vast services to the country by quelling the atrocities of Indian warfare, and restoring peace and security to the southern frontier. In 1840, at his own request, he was relieved by Brigadier-general Armistead, and was ordered to the southwestern department. Here he remained at various head-quarters until government had occasion for his services in Texas.

The project for the annexation of Texas, which was first officially broached in the last year of President Tyler's administration, acquired more and more weight and influence, until finally, in March, 1845, an act to that effect was passed by both Houses of Congress, and was soon after ratified by the. Texian government. Mexico, although the independence of Texas had been long before de facto secured, stoutly protested against the annexation. The special American envoy sent to the Mexican capital to attempt an adjustment of this and other difficulties, was refused a hearing, and great preparations were carried on by the Mexican government For another invasion of Texas. In June, General Taylor received orders to advance with his troops over the Sabine, and protect all of the territory east of the Rio Grande, over which Texas exorcised jurisdiction.

He accordingly marched into Texas, and in August concentrated his forces, amounting to about 3000 men, at Corpus Christi. Receiving orders from Washington to proceed to the Rio Grande, the general, with his little army, moved westward in March, 1846; and after considerable suffering from the heat and the want of food and water, reached the banks of the river opposite Matamoras on the 28th of the month. Colonel Twiggs, with a detachment of dragoons, in the mean time took possession of Point Isabel, situated on an arm of the Gulf, about 25 miles east. General Taylor took every means to assure the Mexicans that his purpose was not war, nor violence in any shape, but solely the occupation of the Texian territory to the Rio Grande, until the boundary should be definitively settled by the two republics.